Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Certified Medical Assistants Calling Themselves Nurses



I was recently seeing  a patient in my office and a family member was in during the visit and was asking some very interesting questions. Since she was knowledgeable, I asked if she was in the medical field somewhere. She said that she was a nurse. I asked her what type of nurse she was and she told me that she was a CMA (certified medical assistant). "Ah, I said, you aren't actually a nurse," and I told her to be very careful about giving the impression that she was one without an actual degree as such. I explained, in a nice way, that it is illegal to portray yourself as a nurse when you are not and that you can get into trouble. " As clearly stated on emedicalassistants.com" , a medical assistant calling herself a nurse is not just confusing patients but also committing a crime." I told her it was the same as if I told people that I was a medical doctor rather than a Nurse Practitioner and that I could lose my license.

In fact, it's a pretty hot topic on some nursing forums. Below is a response to the same question by an LPN.
"It's very simple, really. If you are not a licensed nurse--you are not a nurse. The title carries with it a certain level of responsibility and education (not time, but content). A CMA/MA should identify themselves appropriately, and then docs and patients will catch on. I drew blood and ran lab tests but never called myself the lab technician. Same with taking xrays. I am a nurse because I went to school to be a nurse and took my boards and passed, earning my title of RN or Nurse. I have been taught the nursing process as well as disease process. I can function in a doctor's office or a hospital. The same cannot be said for a CMA/MA. CMAs/MAs should be proud of what they do and also be protecting their title as they earned it. Badges should include title so the public is aware of who is caring for them."

Below is the legal definition for this issue:

Title "Nurse" Protection
Restricting use of the title "nurse" to only those individuals who have fulfilled the requirements for licensure as outlined in each state's nurse practice act is a protection for the public against unethical, unscrupulous, and incompetent practitioners. Nurse practice acts describe entry level qualifications such as education, practice standards and code of conduct for continued privilege to practice nursing. Limiting use of the title "nurse" to only those who have satisfied the licensure requirements ensures the protection the public deserves.

At least 37 states are known to have language in their Nurse Practice Act; either explicit in restricting use of the title "nurse" to only those who are licensed or implicit language restricting use of any words implying the individual is a licensed nurse.....
AR, AZ
, CA, CO, DE, FL, GA, HI, ID, IL, KS, KY, MD, MN, MS, MO, MT, NE, NV, NM, NY, NC, ND, OK, OR, RI, SC, SD, TN, TX, UT, VA, VT, WA, WV, WI, WY

21 comments:

  1. Thanks for offering the great advices for nurse practitioner blog/website. i get too much informative things. this is a great post to get information about it.
    Home care Palos Verdes

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    1. Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. At least,yours is health care related on your link.

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  2. Oh, so many thoughts on this topic!

    Every doctor I work with refers to the CMAs as nurses.

    One of the CMAs I work with wears a name badge holder that says "nurse" on it.

    One of the CMAs I work with constantly asks me about how I'm managing a given patient: for example, when I said a kid had mono, she asked me if I "checked his belly". Really? Or early on in the flu season, she questioned why I was testing kids for the flu. I guess being a CMA for 7 years makes her an authority. I bet all her friends and relatives call her for medical advice! As my mom likes to say, "Give a person a badge, and they think they're an authority".

    Having said that, most of the CMAs I work with are AWESOME! I've been wanting to post on this topic, and I'm so glad you did.

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    1. Thanks for leaving a comment PediNP! Sometimes, I will have an impromptu "education" at work to clarify what people's titles mean and what their scope is. I tell them that it's very important and will maybe save someone's license (if they have one ;)

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  3. Anonymous5:03 PM

    For many years my mother worked for a physician. Whenever someone referred to as a Nurse sh always corrected them and said she wasn't.

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  4. I think this is a very valid point. Protected professions are protected for a reason! I am an ODP in the UK and I've started a Journal Club which you may be interested in. It would be grab to compare issues and opinions across the pond.

    Here's the link

    http://theoperatingroomjournalclub.wordpress.com/about/

    and here's the Facebook page

    https://www.facebook.com/TheOperatingRoomJournalClub?ref=hl


    Happy Blogging!

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    1. Thanks for your relevant links! I don't mind leaving them in if they are medical related! I will check them out when I get the chance.

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  5. Anonymous6:26 PM

    I am so glad this topic has finally been discussed.This is one of my pet peeves. I went to school,studied hard,and practiced my skills in order to become an R.N. I find it rude,and demeaning to me when someone who I know is a medical assistant refers to themselves as nurse. What is worse is that most doctors don't respect the knowledge and professionals that R.N.'s are and continue to refer to the M.A.'s in their office's as nurses. If we change the culture in physician office's,it would go a long way to solving the problem as whole.

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    1. I agree with you totally about educating physicians and other medical providers about the differences between different workers in the field.

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  6. Good post. I am kind of sporadic about reading different blogs, but I see you remodeled your blog and I like it.

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    1. Thanks for the compliment NP Odyssey! I don't get a chance to just enjoy reading much anymore either. It took me a little bit to find your legit comment underneath all of the freaking spam!

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  7. Anonymous3:59 PM

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  8. Anonymous4:25 PM

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  9. I'm a medical assisting student. I'm taking my 10 finals this week and my certification exam
    will probably be in August. I have been assigned to a cardiologists office for my externship
    which will start in two weeks. I appreciate reading about your experience. It sounds like this
    will be challenging but also very rewarding for the patients and for myself. I look forward
    to getting out there and gaining my own experience.

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    1. I hope you do well and enjoy the cardiology externship!

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  10. Anonymous12:39 AM

    Good CNAs and MAs are worth their weight in gold. I value their input on things they have knowledge of. I'm an RN, not an echo tech. Not an MA. Not a social worker. Not a surgeon. Not better, not worse, just acting within my scope. In many states its a full fledged felony to call yourself nurse unless you really are one. I've had that conversation with a couple "veterinary nurses." You're a vet tech. Not a nurse. I respect you- but you're not a nurse!

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    1. I would have to be very careful about how I would respond to someone "pretending to be a nurse". ARGH!

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  11. This is truly a hot topic! I agree with those who stated that it is very important for healthcare agencies to specify on name badges the names/titles of individuals caring for their healthcare consumers to further support that this practice is not acceptable. I hope that articles like these continue to surface and create important conversations that support the integrity of our profession. If we as nurses don't become more disgruntled by this and other issues that challenge our value in the healthcare industry, we will constantly have to fight for the respect we should have earned hundreds of years ago.

    Alicia
    http://nursereveal.blogspot.com/

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  12. nursegirl20011:12 AM

    Revealing RN, I so concur with your profound statement !!! For one thing, we are going to have to become more involved in nursing politics in order to make a larger and louder difference. Yes there still is power in numbers and we need to ban together so that Washington hears and acts upon what we have to say. It is time for nurses voices to be collectively heard !!!

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  13. St Augustine School of Medical Assistants

    Really nice and great informative and valuable post.Thanks for share brilliant information regarding to Medical Assistants.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Anonymous2:29 AM

    I always refer to myself as medical assistant! I am proud of who i am and what i do!! A nurse whether lpn, rn, or arnp well they worked and studied hard to be where they are. I personally work for a nurse practitioner, and the respect i have for her is ten fold!! That said, she treats me with the upmost respect as well. Together we make a great team. Without her, i have no office, and without me a tough time. So together, we have a smooth running office and very halpy patients

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